Paired HomePod Experience

Im curious how the paired HomePods are working for you. I have them as well and they work great with all of my apps EXCEPT for with Channels. I’m running tvOS 14.4, the latest Channels client and using the experimental audio and video drivers (I also have an HDHR 4K).

In my experience this setup causes audio buffering that when pausing or stopping a channel the audio continues to play for 3-5 seconds.

I also see terrible responsiveness from the remote in Channels - I think because of the audio feedback. It’s like trying to use the remote under the influence.

Last, we also see lip sync issues that get progressively worse until stop and restarting play.

It’s so bad in total that I’ve considered moving on from Channels (after using it for nearly 4 years) but the truth is there is nothing better. Another thought was to move away from the HomePods but they work so well on the rest of our streaming apps.

Since I don’t hear anyone else discussing their experience in the forums I’m beginning to wonder if this is unique to me somehow.

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It’s not unique to you, I also experience all of the issues that you have described using paired homepods as my default audio source.

The new PIP feature does not play with the homepods either, so that feature is useless to me right now.

I agree with you, channels seems to be the only app on my Apple TV 4K where the experience of using homepods is poor. I hope the devs can resolve these issues in the near future.

I have also found that things are a bit wonky when using paired homepods with Channels on my Apple TV 4K.

But as far as the audio continuing to play for a second after I pause, that’s not exclusive to Channels.

I also noticed that on a few other apps.

Responses do seem slower on the remote though. When I double hit the play button to swap back to the previous channel, it takes longer than it used to, to switch.

PIP works fine with it for me, other than last night when the icon wouldn’t come up to start PIP.

Once I restarted my Apple TV it came back.

I have 5 Apple TV’s in my home. 4 of them work fine with the new Pip feature. The one that gives me trouble is the one that is connected to my 5.1 surround sound system using a fairly new Denon receiver. When I use Pip on that Apple TV, I lose audio completely. To get it back all I do is hit the menu button (Siri remote) and restart the video. Trying to figure out why. I’ll update if I have any success.

Thank you for replying. I appreciate understanding that I'm not alone or crazy with my experiences.

Just to clarify, for me the audio continues to play from Channels for much more than a second. I've actually exited the Channels app by hitting menu multiple times and had is continue to play after the app has exited. A second or two of continuation would be ok.

And, I too have the audio issues with PIP. Either no sound or a repeating tone so PIP is unusable at this point on this one TV.

Yes, the repeating tone is the issue I am experiencing when using PIP with homepods. I agree, other apps do have a slight audio delay when stopping starting content with homepods but to a much less extent than channels.

@Maddox, @tmm1 - what can I (we) do to help get this addressed? Channels is far and above any other solution out there. You guys have quite literally built a better mouse trap and improved on sliced bread.

I don't we're talking about an edge case configuration here. Apple has released the HomePod and tvOS software to allow them to be configured as the default audio out for the ATV. So, that said, I think that over time you'll have more users wanting this setup.

For my part, I am always willing to work you guys to test as I have been from the very beginning. We did so for the initial Synology code and also the early testing of the TVE implementation.

Do Plex, VLC, Infuse, MrMC work with the paired HomePod correctly?

The repeating tone issue with PIP I am aware of. I don't understand why it only happens with HomePod, but I have an idea of how to fix it.

The other issues don't make much sense. We use standard apple APIs for audio playback and expect audio would play the same way it does with other speakers.

Hi Aman

I haven't used any of the apps that you mentioned. I did do some testing with Emby and I didn't see the issue there that I recall. The Emby client is pretty, but I couldn't handle how long it took to tune a channel.

I'll do some testing with VLC and let you know what I see.

As far as your comments about using the standard APIs... I guess what I'd ask is how do the default and experimental audio drivers differ since the behavior is different one from the other.

One other thought, will client diagnostics help?

Aman, Channels and Infuse are two of the top 5 AppleTv apps in my household. In our familyroom setup with the Homepod as the default AppleTv audio output, Channels regularly experiences 1-3 seconds of audio output when pausing where video stops immediately. I have not noticed this with Infuse (I'll confirm tonight).

The audio buffering even happens when watching Channels and holding the home button down to go to sleep. AppleTv and television both shut down but audio continues out of the homepod for a couple of seconds.

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The way airplay works, you have to send several seconds of audio out into the buffer so it can be transmitted to the wireless speakers. That's usually why when you stop playing, the audio already sent out continues playing. I'm not aware of any way to control this, but if you're saying other apps don't do that then there must be something we're missing.

@tmm1, That makes total sense and fits what I expected as to the way it would work.

FWIW, I'm some testing now on a different tv with VLC and a pair of minis. So far, it's performing better than the Channels client. Sync is good, there is 1-2 sec delay before audio plays and 1-2 secs of play after pause while the buffer empties.

It's worth noting that VLC plays no AC4 at all.

I'll do some testing on the HomePods later tonight.

In the past, after a sleep/wake the Apple TV audio would start going out the TV speakers instead of AirPlay. To work-around that issue, the experimental driver was written. However, now it seems like that original bug is fixed and audio comes out of airplay speakers even after sleep/wake using the default driver.

It would be helpful to get a summary of the issues, broken down by driver setting in Channels app and compared to other apps like VLC and HDHomeRun

Ok, I’m happy to work on that. So, you want me to use both drivers and test as many apps as I can? I should be able to compare Channels, VLC, and HDHR.

I’ll shoot some video of the remote experience as well.

I have to move an HDHR over to the main vlan since the HDHR app can’t discover it on a separate one so it may take a day or so to do that.

The driver setting only affects Channels, but yea I would like to understand the behavior in each mode and how it compares to the other apps.

If the issue also occurs with the HomePod mini, maybe I'll pick one of those up for testing. But I really have no desire to buy two HomePods that I don't plan on using.

Not sure this matters, but maybe this is an Apple issue with having multiple audio feeds competing during a Picture in a Picture type settings, and trying to output to HomePod.

I'm watching the Fox Sports Go app, and doing the PIP thing within that app, and trying to watch the Pistons and Red Wings game at the same time, and the audio gets really weird, and won't easily switch back between the two games, plus often the audio will cut out completely when switching to the other game and going to full screen.

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@tmm1, I’m really scratching my head here. As I mentioned in another thread PIP audio is working for me now going to the HomePods and I am NOT running the beta client that fixes that. I don’t even have it installed. I am presently running the default audio driver and have confirmed through stats that I am watching HEVC and AC-4 content.

What’s more perplexing is that I am no longer having the issues I reported in this thread. I’ve seen since Thursday no problems except an issue my wife noticed with pausing a recording.

What has changed:

  • Running the latest DVR SW. Initially, 2021.01.29.xxxx and now 2021.01.30.0157
  • Updated the underlying Ubuntu. Nothing special; just the normal sudo apt upgrade.
  • Installed VLC and HDHR app on the ATV to facilitate testing.

What hasn’t changed:

  • Channels client is latest released code and was at the time I initially posted.
  • TVOS is 14.4.0 and was at the time I initially posted.

Questions:

  • Is there any shared code / libraries from either VLC or HDHR app that may have changed the behavior? Anything server-side?

I’ve considered removing (one at a time) VLC and HDHR and testing but haven’t yet.

Thoughts?

My only guess is that your Apple TV updated to Channels 4.4.0 in the last couple days and some of the many ATSC3 fixes kicked in.

Unfortunately, I don't think so. I updated 4.4.0 as soon as it came out and saw the same issues as in the prior beta. Also, PIP is working without the benefit of the fixes in the latest beta.

Strange.

Dunno then. With ATSC3 all bets are off. It's experimental technology. Quite possible the broadcast tower made some changes as they continue to experiment with their ATSC3 hardware settings.